- Use an ampersand (&) only as part of an official name, not as a substitute for “and.”
- The possessive of a singular common noun is formed with the addition of an apostrophe and s.
- the student’s book- the parents’ organization
- Apostrophes are required for bachelor’s degree and master’s degree.
- Use a colon to introduce a series or a list. (See Lists, under Grammar and Language Usage.)
- Use a colon to introduce an explanatory phrase or sentence. Capitalize material after a colon if it constitutes a complete sentence.
- No serial comma. Use a comma before the conjunction and the elements but not the final element in a list.
- Those in attendance included students, faculty and staff. Not Those in attendance included students, faculty, and staff.
- Use commas with appositives that are nonrestrictive (not essential to the meaning of the sentence). Do not use a comma with appositives that are restrictive (essential to the noun it belongs to).
- Traveler, the beloved mascot of USC, now has a bronze statue of him in Hahn Plaza.- The popular professor teaches the course American Literature.
With Compound Sentences
- Join compound sentences (two subjects and two verbs) with a comma. Do not use a comma to separate compound objects of verbs.
- He went to the bookstore, and he bought a sweatshirt.- He went to the bookstore and bought a sweatshirt.
- No comma is needed between a month and a year. Do use a comma before and after the year if month, date and year are used.
- The deadline is April 1, 2012, for on-campus applicants and May 1, 2012, for off-campus applicants. A hiring decision will be made in May 2012.
With Nonrestrictive and Parenthetical Phrases
- Use commas to set off nonrestrictive and parenthetical phrases.
- That bike, which is a racing model, is great for getting around campus.- The tram, also known as the intercampus shuttle, goes between UPC and HSC.
With Place Names
- Names of states (or countries) are enclosed in commas when they are preceded by a city or state.
- The football team’s first game will be in Honolulu, Hawaii, on Sept. 2, but the first home game will be on Sept. 11.
With Jr., Sr. and Inc.
- Omit comma before Jr., Sr. or Inc.
- Use space before and after en dashes. Use en dashes between inclusive numbers.
- Examples are listed on pages 23 – 26 of the handbook.
- Em dashes are used to denote a sudden break in thought that causes an abrupt change in sentence structure. Do not overuse em dashes.
- Set with a space on either side.
- Spectrum Design Studio came up with 10 ideas that were not just good — they were good enough to steal.
- Use hyphens between compound adjectives that precede nouns only when necessary to avoid ambiguity.
- Do not use a hyphen between a compound that begins with an adverb ending in ly.
- Commas and periods always go inside quotation marks. Colons and semicolons always go outside quotation marks. With question marks and exclamation points, it depends: If the punctuation is part of the quotation, put it inside the quotation marks; if it’s not part of the quotation, put it outside.
- Use semicolons in lists when items include commas (see Lists).
- Board members at the meeting included: Tommy Trojan, president; I.M. Traveler, vice president; and George Tirebiter, secretary.